Those of us who work in the PR field often eschew political debates, but it is in fact our job to address issues hinging on public perception. Americans’ evolving opinions regarding marijuana and its role in our economy has now reached Wall Street, which means the buzz on Main Street is all about weed, too. (We’ve all learned the hard way how closely the two streets are linked.)
Though marijuana remains illegal under federal law, Colorado and Washington both legalized it for recreational use in November — and Maryland looks likely to follow. Much of the public believes that the legality of marijuana is inevitable — and because we live in a “representative democracy”, there is a chance that policy changes will (gradually) mirror the public’s evolving attitudes.
We also live in a capitalistic society, so everyone from investors and purveyors to distributors and consumers envisions an emerging multi-billion dollar industry as weed goes mainstream. The process will be contentious: Americans have always had a complicated relationship with our vices (just as individuals do), and we will have to find an uneasy middle ground between personal freedom and national/economic interests regarding the green stuff just like we did during the 1933 repeal of prohibition and the push for modern tobacco regulations.